I’m a Dirty Rat!

Wow – not sure how, but this blog post has been languishing in the “Drafts” files for several months now. It’s incomplete, but I’m going to leave it as is; there’s no way I can finish that thought that trails off at the end.

And I have the finisher’s medal to prove it.

Yesterday was the Dirty Rat Trail Run. It wasn’t really a trail: the run started in Prosser, and the first section & last sections – it’s an out & back – are on pavement. That’s about a mile, and then the road turns skyward. The road is a dusty gravel road leading up into Horse Heaven Hills. The views were worth the climb!

I was supposed to do a two-hour bike workout on Friday. I even took the afternoon off to get that ride in early enough that we could go out dinner Friday night. But circumstances intervened. I was sleep-deprived last week. I’d gone a week without caffeinated coffee, and that was making me a little groggy. (I’m still getting caffeine from tea, though.) But I wasn’t getting enough sleep. By Thursday, I probably had a good ten hours worth of sleep deficit. (Beyond that, there’s not much point in counting because I’ll never catch up.)

To add insult to injury, an allergy attack hit me at about 10:30 Thursday night. I was already in bed, but I hadn’t fallen asleep yet. I got up, rinsed my sinuses, took a bunch of drugs, and hoped for the best. I feared I’d end up sleeping on the futon in order to prevent Jim from listening to me sneeze all night. The attack passed, but I ended up with about six hours of sleep – less than ideal.

Despite my tiredness, I was still planning to do the ride. Then the idea of taking a nap instead drifted by. I changed my mind a dozen times or so. Ultimately, the fact that it’s still early in training, that the bike is my strongest event, the fact I would be getting up early on Sunday for the Sage Rat Run, and that I really didn’t want to be groggy and crabby during our dinner out all pointed me towards my bed. I napped.

I got a couple of hours of sleep and it felt wonderful. Even with that boost, I still slept in until around 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

Saturday was devoted to working around the house. I got the bills & the check register caught up in Quicken – yay! we’re not broke! – and we both worked in the yard. It was a great way to spend the rest day before a race.

I could have still slept in Sunday morning, but I woke up around 5:30 and decided to get up early. I’m glad I did, because that gave me extra time to be sure I had everything for the race. (I didn’t prep the night before because I was – you guessed it! – tired.)

There were a fair number of walkers. I think most of them, if not all, were folks who’d run a Sage Rat road race the day before, and were looking to earn the Rat Deux medal for completing runs on both days. Given the course’s length – 15 km – I started off walking for the first ten minutes. That only gave me a few minutes of running before the road started to gain serious elevation. And I do mean SERIOUS: about 1000′ in around a mile & a half.

I knew going into this race that I would walk up the hill rather than trying to run. I ran a few of the flatter sections, but my heart rate while walking was frequently higher than it is at my usual endurance-pace run (over 140 bpm). It was a good workout, because walking tasks the muscles differently.

I’d intended to press the lap button on my Garmin 910 when I reached the top of the hill. Unfortunately, there was no clearly-defined mark that identified the top of the hill. And I kinda forgot. One of my “laps” was from the moment I started running after my warm-up to the turn-around point. I averaged 15:46/mile moving pace in that lap. That’s not bad, I believe. Up on the plateau – which isn’t flat – I mostly average between 10:00-12:00/mile while running. (There were a few sub-10:00/mile paces in there I find difficult to believe.) Given how tired my legs were, that’s pretty awesome. I think it also shows me how much work I’ll have to do to get ready for the Badger Mountain Challenge 50K, but that I can do that if I’m willing to put in the work.

During the section from the turn-around point to the crest of Lincoln Road (the “top” of the hill), I averaged 16:09/mile moving pace. Not sure why I was so slow, but there were a few times I had to kick myself to keep running. There was an incline just before the descent, and that was a little rough. I was tired.

My salvation came in the form of another runner named Chris. She was not far behind me on the way up, and she caught up to me during that incline I just described. We stayed together through the rest of the run. I had to walk a few times on the descent to give my legs a rest. When I suggested that she didn’t need to stay with me, she said she enjoys the company more than she worries about her finish time, and she appreciated the break. As it turns out, she’s similar to me in that she almost always works out alone, but she enjoys chatting with other runners during races.

After we crossed the finish line, Chris thanked me for “challenging” her and keeping a good pace. And I thought she was just being polite when she slowed to a walk with me on the descent.

Chris lives in Tacoma, so she’s not going to become a training partner or a frequent race companion. But we both discussed running the race again next year.

Next year, I’d like to go for the Rat Deux: a road race on Saturday and the trail race on Sunday.

Here’s the Garmin data from the Dirty Rat: Dirty Rat 15K

I went to the 5:00 p.m. service at church last evening. It was our Sunday to deliver the altar flowers, and I delivered a bouquet to a parishioner on the fourth floor at Kadlec. As is my usual practice, I walked down the stairs. I was dreading it, but I wanted the test: my legs did fine! Today, I’m finding that I’m stiff if I’ve been sitting too long – 30-40 minutes or so – but overall my legs are tired but not sore. That pleases me.

First, I think taking that nap Friday afternoon was the right thing to do. Second, I ate during the race: two chunks of banana, a Hammer gel, a little cup of Goldfish (OMG – the best thing I’ve ever tasted!!!!), and I took an Endurolyte capsule after about 3 miles. Third, I ate another banana and a Clif Builder Bar immediately after the race and I drank a LOT of water. (I am thankful it wasn’t hot yesterday.) I did some stretching after I finished: calves, hamstrings. As soon as I got home, I switched to compression tights. I watched the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California lying on the futon with my legs up on an exercise ball. I also worked out some knots with a lacrosse ball (OWWWWWWWWWWW) and did a little more stretching. All of this helped!

Although I didn’t go into this race thinking of it as an “audition,” it has given me information I can use as I consider the Badger Mountain Challenge. I have a lot of work to do. My pace on the Dirty Rat 15K was

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